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Windows Vista Defrag vs 3rd Party Defrag Software

by Altoid666 / February 18, 2009 7:51 PM PST

How does Windows Defrag compare to 3rd party defrag software?
Am I getting effective defragmentation With Windows defrag or should I invest in, say, Diskeeper for example?
I regularly, (2-3 times per week), manually run Windows Defrag and do not have it set for auto scheduled defrag. I also run Disk Cleanup before each defrag session.
I am running Vista Ultimate 32, 4GB ram, Intel Core 2 duo, 100GB HDD, T7700 2.4 GHz Processor on a Lenovo T61p laptop.
Any feedback would be appreciated.

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2 or 3 times a week?
by MarkFlax Forum moderator / February 18, 2009 7:58 PM PST

I don't use Vista myself as I am still stuck on XP for the time being, but I have to ask why you are defragging so often.

When you access the defrgmenting tool, is there an "Analyze" button? If so, what does Vista say when you click it? In XP my analyze button will tell me how much of the hard disk is fragmented, and whether it needs defragmenting at this time.

I haven't had to defragment my hard disk for nearly a year.

Assuming that Vista's file and disk management system is more sophisticated than XP's, I would have to wonder why such regular defragmenting is needed.

As to which is best, I have always used the Windows default version. I don't see any reason to spend my hard earned wages on anything else.


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Windows Vista defrag vs 3rd party defrag
by Altoid666 / February 18, 2009 8:20 PM PST
In reply to: 2 or 3 times a week?

I defrag 2-3 times per week just out of personal preference figuring that it can't hurt. Even though the Windows message says that my sysetm is ok and dosen't need to be defraged.
Just a habit I guess.

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Actually, it can hurt...
by John.Wilkinson / February 20, 2009 8:11 AM PST

Recommendations concerning defragmentation are in a state of debate due to diminishing returns, but most agree that defragmenting when not needed can actually be detrimental, both by reducing system performance during that time period and adding unnecessary wear and tear on the hard drive, potentially decreasing its lifetime. Thus, it is best done only as needed.


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Defrag ??
by gregthames49 / February 21, 2009 12:48 AM PST

Over the years I used windows and thirdparty. I alternate between both.

The reason is the algarythms are somtimes different causing a virtual reformat by moving data to new location on disk (rewrite),

FORMAT gives a fresh image also and rewrites the Disk Fault table, sectors do go bad with time. Bad/soft sectors(loss of magnetism) can cause data and/or format loss.

DEFRAG only refreshes the data Image and directory table only. Defrag will kill use of File recover operations

Defrag rewrite might use the bad sectors that have shown up since last format with defect table rewrite, causing the software to stop working when moved.

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Vista vs Dk.
by SerengetiValley / February 18, 2009 10:26 PM PST

It all depends on whether you are willing to pay for Diskeeper. I personally did, for Diskeeper 2009 pro, and I think it's well worth it, especially on my XP desktop which sees a lot of file movement.

When I used to run Vista on my laptop, I had a copy of Diskeeper installed on that too, but these days, all my machines are XP. That may change again, since it's laptop buying season, come March Grin

Diskeeper is definitely faster, has more features and is more comprehensive than the default Windows defraggers (be it XP or Vista). http://www.diskeeper.com/diskeeper/home/dk2009comparisonchart-home.aspx

But only you can decide whether the features are worth your hard-earned $. Download and use the free trial versions to decide for yourself...

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Read the Windows 7 blog
by mikebliv / February 20, 2009 12:07 PM PST

According to the Windows 7 blog:
"In Vista, we analyzed the impact of defragmentation and determined that the most significant performance gains from defrag are when pieces of files are combined into sufficiently large chunks such that the impact of disk-seek latency is not significant relative to the latency associated with sequentially reading the file. This means that there is a point after which combining fragmented pieces of files has no discernible benefit. In fact, there are actually negative consequences of doing so. For example, for defrag to combine fragments that are 64MB or larger requires significant amounts of disk I/O, which is against the principle of minimizing I/O that we discussed earlier (since it decreases total available disk bandwidth for user initiated I/O), and puts more pressure on the system to find large, contiguous blocks of free space. Here is a scenario where a certainly amount of fragmentation of data is just fine ? doing nothing to decrease this fragmentation turns out to be the right answer!"

Essentially, unless you're working with video or some other highly HDD-intensive activity, Windows and improvements in HDD technology are enough to made defragging a non-issue.

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(NT) It's slow
by Dango517 / February 20, 2009 12:15 PM PST
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Windows defrag v third party defrag
by patsypoodle / February 20, 2009 6:42 PM PST
In reply to: It's slow

My understanding is that it is better to use the Windows version as it has a better understanding of the correct file system for itself than a third party defrag would. I use it on all the machines I look after and I have always found it efficient.

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by DKT27 / February 20, 2009 10:27 PM PST

I use Auslogics Disk Defrag for my xp, althrough it does not have a analyse button but its fast, safe and is going introduce a new things like defragmenting large movie, mp3, exe, etc. files with ease on almost full Hard Drive(in near future). Best of all its free.
Still if you don't like it try smartdefrag.

Remmeber, all the good defragment program will give almost the same result but Windows Disk Defrag is the safest of all(slowest of all too).

Don't Defrag you PC 2-3 times per week till you download 500mb like programs on the internet 2-3 times per week. Ones in a month is okay.

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Is your disk directory NTFS of FAT? It matters.
by CKinVA / February 24, 2009 8:55 AM PST

First: The need to defrag 'frequently' is totally dependent on whether you do a lot of installs, uninstalls, picture/video uploads/downloads ... ie: lots of adding, updating and/or deleting of files = defrag needed more often.

Second: It is also dependent on whether your disk directory uses the older FAT (MS-DOS File Access Table) structure or the newer NTFS (Windows-NT File Structure) ... right click the drive, click properties, look at the general tabs 'File system:' to see what you have if you don't know. Also note, both types can, and often do, exist on one PC and even on one hard drive now days (ie: Drive 1, partition "C:/" might be FAT while drive 1, partition "D:/" could be NTFS). Lots of Windows-XP machines were/are configured by the vendors to have both FAT & NTFS directories as having some FAT space allows them to use older software/drivers.

Within limits, NTFS directories 'self defrag' on the fly. FAT directories NEVER do. Both directories can stand being defragged after lots of file updates (ie: after a windows 'service pack' is installed and tested), but FAT disk directories need defragging more often ... still typically only monthly for most users.

MS Windows defrag utility works fine (slow, pretty safe, and FREE). Several other products are faster (but at a cost usually). I use MS Win-XP defrag and "AusLogics Disk Defrag" (also free) alternating between them as I figure (for some unknown reason) that each has their own defrag formula so I may get the best of both so to speak.

1. Defrag utilities need to know where everything is on the disk drive to work. They (especially MS Windows defrag) can get confused/hung up by anti-virus/spy/adware utilities that check every file that is opened since they usually 'log' the fact that they checked the file ... which causes a directory update ... which causes the defrag routine to restart ... which causes another log update ... which causes the defrag to restart again ... and on, and on.
2. Thus: It is best if you physically disconnect from the internet (ie: power off your modem/wireless hub and/or unplug your DSL/cable/Ethernet connection) and then shut down your anti-virus/spy/adware checkers before defragging.
3. Defraggers need disk space to work (ie: 10-15% of your hard drive must be 'available/free'), so backup and/or delete what you can before you start your defrag utility.
4. Then: Start your defrag and leave the PC alone until it finishes. Defragging really works your system in very critical areas and if your PC crashes, etc., during a defrag, you can loose everything on the hard drive.
5. Today?s hard drives have good life expectancy and occasional defragging will not hurt them. Unnecessary defragging will add some wear to them, of course.
6. Thus, as always, make backups of important files.

Good Luck,

Goodtime Charlie, VA

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Re: Windows Vista Defrag vs 3rd Party Defrag
by Altoid666 / February 24, 2009 7:53 PM PST

First of all, many thanks to all who took the time to respond to my "Defrag" posting. Your answers were much appreciated.

As a note, all of my file directories are NTFS.

Based on all of your answers and my own reading I plan to do the following:
1. Continue to use Windows Vista's built in Defrag.
2. Disconnect from the Internet and turn off my Anti
Virus before each Defrag session.
3. Run disk clean up before defragging.
4. Defrag after uninstalling, addition or deletion of
files or downloading of any new programs, updates
or media donloads.
5. Defrag only when Windows Defrag analyzes my disk and
indicates defragment is needed.

If I have missed any key points or issues please let me know.

Thanks again for all your feedback and answers.


PS: I do regularly back up my system.

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One more thing
by Jerry_In_Detroit / June 3, 2009 9:35 PM PDT

I got into the defrag habit when I found it necessary to resize partitions for various reasons; mostly to install Linux. NTFS leaves data scattered all over the disk space such that it is often impossible to resize a Windows partition using the Windows disk management software.

One issue is the User Journal files (USRJRNL) that NTFS uses as a log of disk changes; these files are marked as unmovable and are not removed automatically. One has to manually delete them using the FSutil program.

Virtual memory files are also unmovable. I turn off the virtual memory before defragging.

Shadow copies are also unmovable. I've turned off the Microsoft System Restore Function and use Erunt to back up my files to an alternative partition.

For commercial software, PerfectDisk's smart defrag works well. It's just a little pricey for my taste. By the way, Windows Defrag has other options that can be accessed via command line which provides more comprehensive defragging.

While I have not been keeping detailed data, a properly defragged drive seems to run faster. This would be logical as your files are contiguous rather than scattered promiscuously across the disk.

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by ron ostrowski / June 5, 2009 11:33 AM PDT

Same money and a LOT of time. DeFragging today with the fast microprocessors is a waste of time. In the last year or so, a magazine (I think PC World) tested defraggers and found LITTLE improvement in time and one program resulted in the computer retrieving files slower.

I have used them on my Core 2 Duo and after a lengthy defragging with one program, used another defragger which again took hours. If they were valuable, why do they disagree on the defragging?

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Defragging philosophy
by Jerry_In_Detroit / June 6, 2009 9:14 AM PDT
In reply to: DeFraggers

Defraggers seem to run along two general philosophies. One is to sort the files by date or date last modified. The second is to puch Windows & software files to the front. One can argue the merits of either. The point is you need to defrag completely if you're going to reduce the size of a partition using Vista software. Outside of changing partitions, I generally agree; Defragging is not needed like it was in the bad old days of Win 95 or 98.

There are, of course, non-MS partition managers, especially from the Linux community. Vista screams bloody murder if you change partition sizes with something other than M$ software but will eventually run.

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